People For the American Way

Human Needs—Not Politics—Should Be Priority #1 in the Federal Budget

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Human Needs—Not Politics—Should Be Priority #1 in the Federal Budget

President Trump wants the federal government to work for wealthy people like him at the expense of everyone else. He made this Robin-Hood-in-reverse approach clear when he previewed his federal budget proposal back in March and then drove the point home when he released more budget details in May. As we wait for a full congressional budget, we’re already seeing disturbing signs of misplaced GOP priorities, including language that takes advantage of a must-pass appropriations bill to undermine the Johnson Amendment and its protections for religious liberty and against money in politics.

People For the American Way is among the more than 1,500 groups across the country urging members of Congress to prioritize the needs of all people and communities as they hash out next year’s funding:

Our message to you is clear: there is no way to keep the promise of prosperity for all Americans, including families with children, women, seniors, people with disabilities, communities of color, and others who are being left behind in the 21st century economy, without significantly increasing investments in public education, affordable housing, health and nutrition, public transit, roads and bridges, clean air, clean water, clean energy, child care, and other means of making investments in communities that also create good jobs. Rather than meeting these goals, President Trump’s FY 2018 budget, however, proposes harsh reductions in all these areas, cutting domestic and international discretionary (NDD) programs $54 billion below the current law’s sequester cap and transferring those funds to the Pentagon.

PFAW and this impressive group, led by the Coalition on Human Needs, believe that members of Congress should not take advantage of the tremendous power they’ve been given as budget and appropriations leaders in order to slip in harmful policy riders:

We also urge you to reject controversial ideological policy riders that threaten to stall the budget process, potentially preventing states and localities from receiving federal resources in a timely manner. Policy provisions of great consequence to workers, retirees, consumers, and the environment should receive thorough consideration by authorizing committees and not be slipped into spending bills.

PFAW is also opposing riders as a member of the Clean Budget Coalition, which recently sent its own letter to Congress:

We, the undersigned organizations, write to ask you to oppose any FY 2018 appropriations bills which include ideological policy riders.

Appropriations bills have been used before to undermine essential safeguards through “policy riders” – provisions that address extraneous policy issues, and are slipped into appropriations bills to win approval as part of must-pass funding legislation. Earlier this year, hundreds of these policy provisions were proposed as a part of the omnibus process, and in the FY18 budget process some members of Congress have already started to insist on ideological riders.

We connected our clean budget message back to the president’s misplaced priorities:

Contentious poison pill riders are intended to advance the priorities of special interest donors and supporters and should not be included in funding bills.

President Trump has proposed a budget rigged for billionaires and big business featuring deep cuts that endanger our health and safety, our workplaces and wallets, as well as, our environment and our economy. In addition to being free from poison pill riders, any budget passed through Congress must go far beyond both this paltry Presidential proposal and the obviously inadequate sequester funding levels, to robustly fund agencies and programs to protect the public.

We urge Members of Congress to support increased spending caps while opposing flawed funding proposals that include ideological policy riders.

PFAW Executive Vice President Marge Baker:

President Trump and congressional Republicans have shown time and again that they are more concerned with giving tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy than helping working families survive and thrive. Americans deserve a federal budget that safeguards their health care and invests in the programs and services they rely on. Congressional Republicans need to stop wasting precious resources on their extreme ideological agendas and deliver a clean budget that meets human needs and is free of harmful policy riders that could not become law on their own merits.

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